How to Train a Dachshund to Track Deer

Hard
2-4 Months
Work

Introduction

When you see a Dachshund, your first thought may be of a cute little weiner dog, curled up in a easy chair, but Dachshunds are actually hunting dogs as they're considered "hounds". Hounds have been bred for generations to aid humans in hunting and are excellent scenting dogs. The area of a Dachshund’s brain dedicated to processing smell is forty times the size of a human's!

 The reason your Dachshund is short-legged and long-bodied is not so he can look great dressed as a hot dog at Halloween. It is because he was bred to hunt pests and follow animals into their burrows. This means that not only are they great at scanning and tracking prey, but they have a strong prey drive! Although not originally bred to track deer, they are very active and can be used to successfully track an injured deer that has holed up in heavy brush. In fact, the low, long Dachshund's physique may be an asset, as he can easily maneuver through thick brush where a wounded deer may be hiding.

Defining Tasks

Dachshunds have a powerful sense of smell and can become very focused when they get on a scent trail. The problem is that they can easily be distracted by a competing scent. Directing your Dachshund to be focused on tracking deer will be the challenge. You can accomplish this by introducing deer scent and reinforcing it by pairing the scent with food. Dachshunds are notorious foodies and high value treats are always a good motivator.

You will want your Dachshund to signal you when he locates a deer trail or a downed deer, so training your dog to speak on command and then associating this behavior with locating a deer will be useful when hunting. Other deer tracking dogs can be very helpful in training, as the best way to learn is by example. However, remember that independent little Dachshunds are still prone to going their own way, so you will need to supervise and direct your dog, even when working with another experienced deer tracking dog. 

Getting Started

Deer hunting involves getting your Dachshund used to the sights and sounds of a gun being fired. Although not built for speed or long distance, you will want to make sure your dog is in good shape. He should be familiar with working in rough terrain so as to avoid injury to joints, back, and muscles. Be aware of your dog's limitations. Many hunters use tracking collars when they are working with their hunting dogs loose in the wilderness. This may be an especially good idea for an independant little Dachshund who may choose to go his own way when hunting off leash. Dachshunds can use some motivation, so food to reinforce desired behavior is a good idea during training.

The Focus on Deer Blood Method

Effective
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Step
1
Soak sponge
Obtain deer blood - roadkill may be a good source - or blood from another butchered animal and apply it to a sponge which will soak up blood and hold a scent.
Step
2
Introduce scent and learn 'Speak'
Present the blood soaked sponge to your Dachshund and encourage him to investigate it. Ask him to 'Speak' when he smells the sponge, then provide a high value treat.
Step
3
Create a scent trail with blood
Start pouring deer blood in a simple, straight trail. Place a scent object like a deer hide at the end of the trail for your dog to find. Make it easy, at first, and ramp up the difficulty over time.
Step
4
Encourage following the trail
Let your Dachshund follow the trail. When he reaches the object at the end of the trail, say 'Speak', and provide a treat. Praise your dog and let him know he did a good job.
Step
5
Make it more complex
Make trails more complex and longer, with more twists, turns, and intermittent breaks in the trail so your Dachshund learns to follow a trail that more closely simulates what he will encounter in an actual hunting situation. Practice and reward for following the trail to its conclusion.
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The Work the Nose Method

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Step
1
Encourage the nose
Teach your young Dachshund to use his nose. Take him out on treks in wild terrain and allow him to use his nose and follow trails. Encourage him and let him have fun following his nose.
Step
2
Make a game with food trails
At home, create scent trails with food, grind soft treats underfoot, and walk around in the yard to create a trail, making a game of allowing your Dachshund to follow the scented trail. Reward your dog at the end of trail with more treats.
Step
3
Pair deer scent with food
Introduce deer scent to your Dachshund, using a piece of deer hide - preferably from the rear leg, near the tarsal glands - that has good scent, or apply commercial scent to a piece of deer hide. Present hide to your dog and pair it with food.
Step
4
Create scent trail
Create a simple scent trail by dragging the deer hide. Put a treat with the deer hide at the end of the trail. Take your Dachshund on a leash to follow the scent trail. When you reach the drag object at the end of the trail, command your dog to speak, and provide the treat.
Step
5
Find wild deer trails
Start taking your dog out and locating deer scents out in the wild. Carry a matching deer scented item to encourage your Dachshund to match the scent and treats to reinforce locating deer trails. When you find deer droppings you know your dog is on a deer trail. Provide treats and praise your dog as necessary.
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The Team Method

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Step
1
Introduce dogs
Introduce your Dachshund to an experienced deer tracking dog. If you can find another Dachshund, that is ideal, as they will be or the same physical ability, and will use similar strategies when negotiating terrain, however, any experienced dog can be used if he is focused on his job and well socialized.
Step
2
Generate interest
Once dogs are well socialized and comfortable with each other, take them out investigating in an area where deer are present. Let the experienced deer tracking dog locate the scent and get excited. Your Dachshund will also take an interest in the deer scent.
Step
3
Follow trail with noses
Allow dogs to follow the deer scent trail together. You can also create deer scent trails if necessary to ensure that a trail is present for the dogs to discover and follow.
Step
4
Reinforce tracking
When the dogs locate and flush a deer or reach the end of the scent trail you have laid down, praise the dogs. Provide plenty of treats as a reward.
Step
5
Add a signal
Start asking your Dachshund to 'Speak' when he sees a deer or when he reaches the end of a set scent trail, so that your dog will be able to signal you when he eventually locates a downed deer.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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